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My No Spend/Low Spend year is officially over and I want to share my experience!

I must say, 2020 was probably the best year to do this.

Obviously, I didn’t go into the New Year expecting a worldwide pandemic and most travel/events to be canceled, but that’s what happened.

If you go back to my original No Spend plan, you’ll see that I didn’t want to spend money on:

  • Clothes
  • Shoes
  • Home decor
  • Supplements (BCAAs, protein powder, etc.)
  • Books
  • Notebooks, pens, etc.
  • Electronics (camera, tripod, computer, etc.)
  • Courses
  • Unnecessary beauty products (face masks, scrubs, etc.)

Well, from this list I did break my no spend rules a few times.

Supplements: I did buy BCAAs once. I also decided I DID want to buy protein to supplement my vegan diet.

Books: I did buy one book, but with an Amazon gift card I received on my birthday!

Notebooks/pens: I bought 2 bullet journals. One I did plan for, but the other was a “trial” bullet journal.

Courses: I bought 2 courses for about $19. However, I do consider them as an investment in my business.

Beauty products: I probably spent about $30 on unnecessary beauty products.

ALL of My Spending

There are quite a few things I must pay for (rent, utilities, bills, debt, etc.) and I am going to go through how much I spent in each area

Savings/Sinking Funds – I did put money into my various sinking funds, but I don’t consider that as spending.

Roth IRA – I invested a total of $1,400 into my Roth IRA (VTSAX with Vanguard).

Donate – I donated $650.50. I donated at least $50 a month, and usually always to animal rescues.

Rent – $16,016 for my one bedroom, one bathroom apartment in Atlanta, GA. My lease went up by $30 in May. I predicted that I would pay about $18K for living expenses total. With the numbers below, you’ll see that was pretty accurate.

Renter’s Insurance – $186.16

Trash – $420, I have to pay for valet trash service at my apartment.

Wi-Fi – $655 for Google Fiber

Electricity – $725.45 which was a little higher than last year. This is because I was home WAY more.

Water/Sewage – $450.57 again higher than last year due to being home more.

Food/Groceries – $3,835.68 on groceries (including toiletries) and food out. I planned for about $3,000, but I did increase my grocery budget around October or so.

Gas (car) – $254.13 which is more than half of what I spent last year. Since I’ve been working from home I drove significantly less and gas prices were much lower anyway.

Student Loans – $556.86 because I paid the first 3 months before the pandemic/CARES act.

Car loan – $9,951.38, my car payment is $382.55 but since student loans were in forbearance I decided to tackle my car loan first. I can’t believe how much I paid off of it!

Car maintenance – $64.66 All I got was an oil change, tire rotation, and inspection since I barely drove! I pulled the money from my sinking fund though.

Credit card debt – $6,585.38 If you don’t know, I started 2020 with credit card debt all from a balance transfer of my student loans. I was actually very stressed about not being able to pay it off in time, but it all worked out!

Insurance – $1,708.65 which includes life, dental, and vision insurance. However, in December I canceled my vision and dental plans since it is now offered through my job.

Health – $1,584.21 which includes vitamins, supplements, and medical expenses. I also didn’t get ANY massages even though I planned for 2!

Phone/Car Insurance/Dogs – $2,930.25 This is a bit confusing so let me explain. My sister’s name is on our phone bill (myself, my sister, my dad, and step mom) so I pay her for my portion AND for my dad/step mom’s. This is because my dad pays my car insurance and the costs are about the same. Me and my sister also adopted 3 dogs together but now that we live apart she has all 3 with her so I send $50 a month to help out.

Business – I invested $1,976.52 into my online businesses which includes website hosting, email services, my course platform, merch, and a number of other things. I was expecting to only pay $1200, but obviously predicted too low.

Spotify – $119.88

Gifts – $924.37 all of which I had saved in my sinking funds.

Co-signed car – $2,947.66 If you don’t know my story you can watch this video. Early 2020 I ended up having to pay the difference in what CarMax offered for the car and what was left on the loan, even though I never drove the car. It sucks, but this was also a HUGE relief to get out of.

Grow You (coaching) – $196 and I canceled early. I was expecting to spend $343 on this but she ended up raising the price so I canceled.

Parking – $40 Several places in Atlanta require you to pay for parking and usually my boyfriend would pay for the event/restaurant we were going to so I would cover parking.

Beauty – $190.85 The bulk of this was necessary (shampoo, moisturizer, etc.) and I would say ~$30 was not necessary.

Travel – $634.92 I was supposed to go to Chicago for an event in May but that got canceled. However, in October my boyfriend and I ended up booking a weekend trip to Colorado!

CPA – $265 To my CPA for filing my taxes.

Miscellaneous – And the most important number of all…$123.29. That is IT. I only spent $123 on unnecessary items!!!!! INSANE.

This is what I bought: a bullet journal, glue (my table broke), hair oil, bodyweight scale, straw cleaner, stamps, stun gun, pepper spray, FitBit bands.

What I Experienced

I appreciated my things more

Along this journey I really realized I had more than enough and I felt a greater appreciation for those things.

I also made sure to take care of my things more so that I wouldn’t have to spend money to replace them.

I wanted less

Throughout the year I really noticed the trap that people fall into. When going out or even on social media I would see people with tons of shopping bags and expensive outfits. It definitely made me curious about their finances

I didn’t feel the desire to want as many things because I don’t care to impress strangers/people around me.

Of course, there are things I wanted and still want, but I would see something and not buy it. Which would make me proud and I ended up being glad I didn’t purchase it.

I was able to pay off debt AND save more

I paid off about the same amount of debt as I did in 2019. However, this year I was able to save WAY more.

I put $200 – $500 in my sinking funds each month and got my emergency fund to almost $4,000.

I obviously wouldn’t have been able to do that if I was spending.

In 2020 I also didn’t have a significant increase in income. I got my usual 3% raise at work and actually made less money online.

Going Forward

I will not be continuing a no spend year for 2021.

There are things that I would like to purchase and a few things have become a necessity. For example, I walked so much in 2020 that my shoes are getting holes in them!

Now I don’t plan on blowing my money on personal spending, but I will definitely be purchasing “unnecessary” items.

Since November, I have been adding $50 to a personal spending sinking fund and I will be budgeting a certain amount each month.

At the very least, I will always make sure I have the money to pay for it in full. I definitely won’t be going into credit card debt again.

I need to declutter again

I would like to declutter my apartment again (primarily my closet) and go through the things I don’t use and either sell or donate them.

Sustainable/ethical shopping

I really want to shop more sustainably. For me the first place to look are thrift stores for used items.

There is just so much stuff in the world and I want to try and decrease my addition to that.

Plus, I don’t want to support companies that are unethical.

Overall, I am SO glad I committed this challenge and highly encourage others to try it out!!

Please let me know if you have any questions!